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Out of the tragedy of the drowning of a young father in January, a family has donated vital rescue and first aid equipment to a small Illawarra surf club in the hope that lives can be saved in the future.

When Nhan Lam was retrieved from the water at the unpatrolled MM Beach near Port Kembla and sadly died later in hospital, a fundraising page was set up to support Mr Lam’s wife and their three young children.

The family pledged half of the proceeds to Surf Life Saving NSW and recently handed over two new surf rescue boards and a public access defibrillator to Port Kembla SLSC. Additional funds will be used to establish a scholarship in Nhan Lam’s honour to support the training of future local lifesavers.

Nhan Lam and his young family had travelled to the beach from their home in south-western Sydney on an extremely hot Sunday 7 January to cool off. Port Kembla’s main beach car park was full so they drove a few minutes north to the less crowded, but unpatrolled, MM Beach.

Nhan was swimming on his own when he got into difficulty. A member of the public was able to pull him from the water as emergency services including surf lifesavers rushed to the scene.

He was taken to hospital in a critical condition where he sadly passed away two days later.

Nhan Lam was the third person to drown that weekend in the Illawarra/South Coast area, capping a tragic period for the families affected and the local community.

Handing over the lifesaving equipment to Port Kembla SLSC, Nhan’s brother-in-law Hung Doan said the family was still in total shock that Nhan had drowned as he was young, fit and a good swimmer. He grew up in a coastal village in Vietnam and had always been comfortable around water.

“A lot of people who do drown, know how to swim and are confident. It just goes to show that swimming skills alone can’t prevent you from drowning,” said Hung Doan.

“Tragedy isn’t the sort of thing you think about when you’re taking your kids out for a nice day at the beach.”

Despite struggling with the loss of their loved one, Nhan’s family are advocating for better education around the importance of swimming at patrolled locations.

“It’s easy to forget about the safety precautions. Drowning just takes a split second and then it’s too late.” 

The donated lifesaving equipment was gratefully received by Port Kembla SLSC and will be put to good use this summer.

“If this equipment can save just one person, that’s another family that doesn’t have to go through what we’ve gone through,” said Hung Doan.


Friday 21 September 2018